Is Monkeypox a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

February 26, 2023

Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI), aka a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? First, it’s important to recognize the difference between a “sexually transmitted infection” and an “infection that is transmissible during sex.”

As far as we know, the virus that causes monkeypox is not transferred in semen from men or vaginal fluid from women. This means it is not an STI in the strictest sense of the word. (Although further research could change what we know).

That said, we do know that monkeypox is transferred by skin-to-skin contact—especially if another person comes in contact with the rash, both as pustules and crusted-over lesions. Touching another person, including sexual contact, and coming in contact with clothes and bed linens used by that person, could transfer the virus. Therefore, monkeypox can be considered an infection that is transmissible during sex. For safety’s sake it is best to limit contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person until there are no more of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache-Backache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash consisting of red pustules or crusts

In summary, strictly speaking, monkeypox is not an STI. However, it is commonly transmitted during sex due to close skin-to-skin contact.

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